The OPQ 32i (Occupational Personality Questionnaire 32 Version i) as a predictor of employee theft in a financial institution

Nobre, Michelle (2005-03)

Thesis (MA (Industrial Psychology))--University of Stellenbosch, 2005.


The impact of employee theft in organisations is far reaching and includes financial as well as non-financial costs. Nowhere is the reduction of theft more important than in financial institutions. Research has shown that the second best predictor of counterproductive behaviour such as employee theft was integrity. Integrity is a concept that has a long and contentious history. Being a difficult construct to define, it has been subject to much debate. From a business standpoint, there is now considerable interest in linking integrity to organisations as well as individual persons. Research has further shown that various personality dimensions are predictive of counterproductive behaviours such as theft. As such personality measures have been used increasingly as integrity tests to detect such behaviour. The purpose of this study is to examine the ability of the Occupational Personality Questionnaire 32 version i (OPQ 32i) to predict employee theft in a financial institution. Research has shown that individuals with lower levels of integrity are more likely to indulge in counterproductive behaviour which may be manifested in employee theft. Specific dimensions of the OPQ under study are conscientiousness, emotional control, achievement orientation, rule following and conventionality. In line with current research it was expected that these five personality dimensions would differentiate those individuals who commit theft in a financial institution from those who do not. A review of current literature is undertaken, focusing on the concept of integrity, the history and background of integrity testing, the classification of integrity tests, as well as the use of personality dimensions in assessing integrity. The review further includes a discussion of criticisms and controversies that surround the application of Integrity tests, recommendations for the application of integrity testing, employee theft as a criterion, and the impact of employee theft on organisations. This is followed by a discussion of theft as being a result of individual personality traits versus being a result of situational factors. Recommendations are also made to organisations on how to limit employee theft. Finally, the OPQ32i (Occupational Personality Questionnaire 32 Version i), as the choice of measurement tool is discussed, as are the psychometric properties and previous research conducted on the tool. The current study was an empirical one with a quantitative, concurrent validity approach. A sample of 116 individuals from a financial institution was divided into two mutually exclusive groups based on detected theft. 22 Employees had been dismissed due to theft (Group 2) and 94 were still employed (Group 1). General statistics were completed followed by a two-tailed independent-samples t-test and a measurement of effect sizes with a view to conduct a Canonical Discriminant Analysis. The results of the study suggest that the conscientiousness, emotional control, achievement orientation, rule following and conventionality dimensions of the OPQ32i were not able to differentiate those individuals who committed theft in the financial institution under study from those who did not commit theft. Thus, in the financial institution under study, the research conducted does not provide conclusive evidence for the OPQ32i as a good predictor of employee theft. This conclusion needs to be interpreted with care given the limitations of the research. The results are discussed with specific reference to response style of applicants, integrity as a construct, the impact of situational factors on employee theft and difficulty of theft as a criterion. Finally limitations and recommendations for future study are discussed.

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